By Amaju Melvin Pinnick
THE feat so far achieved by the Ghana national team in the on-going 2010 FIFA world cup in South Africa in their qualification into the round of 16 has once again provoked an intellectual discourse on the imperatives of a transitional football development programme across lands and climes where the beautiful game is accorded real attention.

The road map to Ghana football’s glory is painstakingly tortuous. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Ghana (formerly Gold Coast) held sway in African football, winning four nation’s cup and producing some of the finest footballers. Just when expectations were high, Ghana football nose-dived, leading to a season of ‘interregnum’ in that country’s football history.

Using the Ghana paradigm will help us appreciate and moderate the long term benefits of proper planning and organization, a comprehensive youth development and transition programmes which should be the policy thrust of visionary, transparent and dynamic football administration, all over the world.

The maiden edition of the West Africa Football Union (WAFU) U-20 otherwise known as the “Ibori Cup” which Delta State was privileged to host in Oghara was platform to test run the youth football development programme of the Ghana Football Federation.

The Ghananian side not only won the WAFU U-20 but also made an appreciable impact by winning the U-20 world cup in Egypt in the continent of Africa. Ghana also debuted four years ago in the FIFA World Cup held in Germany and made it to the second round.

This was the fall-out of a dynamic FA that was elected two years earlier with a focus of going beyond their 2006 feat in Germany. Ghana was also very impressive at the last African Cup of Nations where they gave Egypt a run for their money by finishing second in the biggest football fiesta in Africa. In line with the Ghana football transition programme, the U-20 team were projected and graduated to play in the South African World Cup.

Even if Ghana bows out in the quarter finals of the global mundial, the victories recorded so far before the World Cup can’t be written off with a wave of the hand. The successes or victories recorded by Ghana is not a fluke after all, but could be affirmed to the earlier reasons stated above.
In Ghana, the Football Federation of the day does not rely on big names or oldies to prosecute competitive football within or outside the Country.

A Suleiman Muntari who won the champions league with Inter Milan, a top flight club in Europe was in the reserve bench in all the matches played so far involving Ghana.

While not trying to cast aspersions and throw sour grapes on any group of persons or institutions. I dare say that the problems of Nigeria Football is hydra-headed ranging from the administrators, lack of commitments from players, some stake holders including the mass media.

As the Nigeria Football Federation election draws near, there is desperation from some quarters to undermine the process. Some are parading themselves as sacrosanct while lining up their cronies from the various geographical zones to pick nomination forms to be on the Board of Football Federation. They are Nigerians and have every right to contest any election.

However, people should pause, ponder and ask themselves if they possess the required ingredients to be on the Board of the Football Federation at this material time of our chequered football history. A very sensitive position whose prominence and relevance cannot be underestimated is the President of a Football Federation.

Now back to the Nigeria football factor which is a vestige of under development and exploitation as it has turned out to be. The elections into the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation has been scripted into a theatre of the absurd, with desperate actors employing the Machiavellian tools, be they the incumbent Board members or new entrants jostling to come on board.

This writer, without sounding immodest is robustly and eminently qualified like any other Nigerian to run for elections in the Board of the Nigeria Football Federation going by his modest achievements and contributions made to the development of the game of football in my native Delta State and indeed in Nigeria. However, I am not READY to run because of the numerous responsibilities I am saddled with in my state at the moment which would not make me give in my best.

At this point, only the best is good enough to turn around the dwindling fortunes of football in Nigeria.
The time will come or the time has come when Nigerians will no longer accept failure or near failure in our collective resolve to take football to a high pedestal. We are tired of half measures.

Every Nigerian stakeholder in the game is pained to the marrows over the conditions we now found ourselves. While pushing for a credible elections into the Board of the Nigeria Football Federation in the coming days, let’s ask the would-be-contestants “Are you really ready?” “Have you a vision for football development in Nigeria?” “Have you got what it takes to run football?” and “Will you be selfless, transparent and committed to the cause?” We can go on and on.

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